PERRY -- The Veterans Warhawks picked up a huge 59-54 victory over the Perry Panthers in a key GHSA Region 2-AAAA contest Friday night.
Veterans started the game on a 9-1 run, but Perry stayed in the game by seven free throws in the quarter to trim the lead to 19-15 at the end of the quarter. The Panthers took their first lead of the game at 24-23 with 4:05 in the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Kevin Ford. They would go on to lead 30-28 at the half.
The momentum carried through the break for the Panthers as they extended their lead to as much as nine points. Perry led 44-40 at the end of the third quarter.
After the timeout, Veterans was the team that came out with the renewed focus. Head coach Chris Kothes team took the lead back at 46-44 just one minute into the quarter.
Veterans had a four-point advantage with 2:47 to go when Rantravious Napier knocked down a 3 from the corner. The Warhawks took back the lead just one minute later on a well-executed inbounds play that found K.J. Smith wide open for a layup underneath the basket.
The Warhawks responded just a minute later on a field goal by Shazier Lawson that gave them a lead they would never relinquish. Perry missed the front end of a pair of one-and-one opportunities with less than a minute to play to end their chances at a comeback.
Warhawks senior guard Mike Leger knocked down a pair of free-throws with 17 seconds to play to seal the victory. Leger finished with 12 points, seven coming in the fourth quarter. Veterans converted 7-of-8 attempts from the line in the final frame.
Perry falls to 8-5 in region play, while the Warhawks move to 10-4. Veterans entered the contest just one game behind Rutland for first place in the region, and its own the tiebreaker of the Hurricanes due to a season sweep.
The Panthers picked up a victory in the girls game with a 51-37 decision. Aaliyah Cheatham led Perry with 18 points.